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Monday, May 2, 2011

In medias res

I've long given up asking people to refrain from calling Ground Zero "Ground Zero." As inaccurate as the term may be, that is what it will always be called. I might as well go on a crusade convincing people to refrain from calling Elvis "The King," or Shakespeare "The Bard."

I could get better results if I tried to convince people to refer to the Sun as "that big flamey ball thing in the sky."

My objection to the term 'ground zero' is straightforward enough: it isn't ground zero for anything. It's a place where a lot of people lost their lives, and was more a symptom than a point of explosion. While technically, one could make the case that 'Ground Zero,' which means "the point of the Earth's surface closest to detonation," is an accurate term as the foundation, the hole, was the closest earthly point to the exploding planes hitting the Twin Towers on 9/11. But the technical definition is not what is meant when the phrase 'Ground Zero' is uttered.

'Ground Zero,' a proper noun indicating the space where there used to be two rather boring-looking oblong boxes, means 'This is where it started.' Ask anyone. When you ask why that space in lower Manhattan is called 'Ground Zero,' they'll tell you, "That's when we went to war." Or, "That's where it all started."

"With whom did we go to war?" you might ask, and receive the flat response: "Terror." Nevermind that declaration of war on a state of mind makes as much sense as the declaration of war on a mind-altering substance.

"That's where what all started? What is 'it'?" you might ask, and receive the more embroidered response: "That's when America realized we had to do something about fundamentalist Islam." As if we hadn't been doing anything up to that point.

So. Ground Zero. For nearly a decade a giant hole in the ground surrounded by fences and razor wire--the most protected hole in the ground next to Old Faithful. Recently, Ground Zero has seen activity. The hole is being filled, there are shapes emerging from the earth, and it is now within the realm of possibility that there will one day be a building once again jutting up from the end of Manhattan like a snaggled tooth.

And beneath it, a memorial for the dead. A ground zero of national grief. A monument to national insanity.

A reminder of just how fucked up we became while working our will in the Middle East for decades.


Now the news of Osama bin Laden's death, and the celebration. I admit it. I celebrated, and Greg celebrated, and we both felt as if some closure (a word I've been warned not to use, but if I have to accept 'Ground Zero,' then others must accept the word 'closure') had been brought about by President Obama's May 1 speech. But that was last night. Today, I feel cheated.

May 1st is the cruelest day.

It's the day Hitler's death was announced, for instance. Hitler, who shot himself in the head a day or so before the announcement, managed to skirt justice and escape married life with one shot. He didn't deserve to take his own life. He should've been forced to stand trial, and to have a bitchy wife.

It's also the day, 60 or so years later, that George W. Bush swaggered onto the deck of the USS Lincoln and declared that the Iraq war was over. Mission accomplished. You know how that ended (and if you do know how that ended, please email me because I'm still waiting. Spoilers welcome!).

And it's the day that Donald Trump's television show, 'Celebrity Apprentice,' was preempted by an announcement that President Barack Hussein Obama had ordered the killing (murder?) of Osama bin Laden. Again, a bullet to the head and no real justice. Unlike Hitler, bin Laden endured married life. Like Hitler, he escaped by brains rather than by law. Or, rather, he escaped by brains blown out rather than being presented with his crimes against humanity.

Mission as accomplished as Bush's mission.

So now, I'll have to try and convince people to refrain from calling this 'justice,' and I'll lose, and we'll have our 'Ground Zero,' our 'memorial,' and our bin Laden 'justice.' And no one will get that Ground Zero was the middle of the story, and that what came before was just as important as what will be coming soon.

On another note: Fuck bin Laden.

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